One curious detail from the rhetoric of the last two elections was that the political conversation only focused on “the middle class,” as if all sides refused to acknowledge that the poor had any relevance. And since lots of others have bandied the term about, I’m feeling free to jump on the bandwagon here.
The following quote from Foster and Wolfson provides a fairly standard summary of the importance of the middle class:
“The presence of a sizable, well-off middle class is typically presumed to be an important factor in the growth and development of today’s successful industrial economies. The middle class provides much of the labor force for the economy and is a key market for the national product. A large portion of a country’s tax revenue is collected directly or indirectly from the middle class. It also has a special role in the relative political stability these nations have enjoyed. According to Lester Thurow [see their footnote 32,] ‘A healthy middle class is necessary to have a healthy political democracy. A society made up of rich and poor has no mediating group either politically or economically.’”